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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

COM: College of Matriculation

Maybe you said it when you got a bad grade on a test. Or when you were stressed about college apps, and felt like one more supplemental essay would push you over the edge. You probably turned to your friend and said, with a sarcastic smile:

“Guess I’m going to College of Marin.”

You don’t mean to be rude, of course. But, at Redwood, community colleges are sometimes seen as inferior to four-year schools, or as a last-ditch option for students who aren’t accepted at four-year colleges. This shouldn’t be the case.

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Last year, 17 percent of Redwood graduates went on to a two-year college, according to the 2014-15 School Profile. This is a sizeable portion of the graduating class.

During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama announced a plan that would make community college free for a student’s first two years. A similar state-run plan is already underway in Tennessee, and 90 percent of high schoolers there have enrolled.

By making community college affordable to anyone, Obama is sending an important message: Everyone deserves the chance to get a good education, even if they can’t afford a four-year university. Though textbooks, transportation, and housing are still expensive, Obama’s plan is a boon to students who might not go to college for lack of money.

Too often, Redwood students’ mindsets are fixated on four-year colleges. After all, 80 percent of our alums attend one right after they graduate from high school.

But it’s important to remember that some students are making different post-high school plans. Some students need to work to support themselves; others need to stay home and take care of loved ones. Sometimes the reason for attending community college is academic.

Many Redwood students might not even be aware that they’re dissing community college students. At rallies, it’s common for seniors to chant “four more years” to the freshmen. Inevitably, some students respond by shouting, “College of Marin.”

This chant may seem funny at first, but it is hurtful to students who are planning to attend community college. Considering the fact that more Redwood students go on to attend College of Marin than any other college, it’s time for this chant to be phased out of the repertoire.

Community college is a viable option for many students—it provides a way to earn credits without dealing with expensive tuition and complicated admissions processes. An Associate’s Degree is a stepping stone for a fruitful career.

And now, some community colleges even offer four-year degrees—15 California community colleges just announced a plan to give Bachelor’s degrees in areas ranging from dental hygiene to biomanufacturing.

Moreover, after two years at a California community college, a student can transfer to a University of California or California State University school. Fifty-five percent of CSU graduates and 28 percent of UC graduates began their post-secondary education at a community college, according to the Community College League of California.

And it gets even better: Under the UC system’s Transfer Admission Guarantee, community college students who meet certain qualifications are guaranteed admission to one of six UC campuses.

Community college is sometimes reduced to a joke, implying that it’s only for bad students or slackers. This simply isn’t true, and it could be hurtful to students who have their sights set on a two-year school or those simply can’t afford a four-year university.

Let’s stop pretending College of Marin is just an insulting rally chant or a symbol of bad academic performance. Instead, let’s support our classmates who are planning to further their education at a community college.

And let’s try to see community college for what it really is: another path to a college diploma, which is always a noble thing.

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